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The new administration displays a multilateral diary , but on crucial issues maintains Trump-era measures

03.06.201 / With domestic affairs as a priority, due to Covid, the new Biden Administration's attention to Latin America has generally been relegated to a very low priority. Abroad, negotiations with Iran or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been the focus of U.S. diplomacy, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken taking center stage. But some regional issues have national repercussions in the US, such as migration or drug trafficking, and Biden has placed his vice-president, Kamala Harris, at the forefront of the management of these problems. With Biden's direct dialogue with his hemispheric counterparts hampered by the pandemic, it is Harris who is leading the meetings with Mexican and Central American authorities, as in the trip she will make in June.

article / Miguel García-Miguel

Once in office, Joe Biden found a very different landscape from the one he had left behind after serving as Barack Obama's vice-president. Donald Trump pursued an isolationist and certainly not paternalistic policy compared to what has often been the character of the US relationship with its Western Hemisphere neighbours. Trump had a dominant and imposing tone at times core topic, such as during the T-MEC negotiations or in the application of sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela, but the rest of the time he disengaged from the region. This lack of involvement was to the liking of populist leaders of different persuasions, such as Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro. 

In the next four years, the Biden-Harris administration can be expected to return to multilateralism, action on climate change and the promotion of democracy and human rights, issues that are at the heart of the current US diary . These issues, as well as those related to migratory pressure and the desirability of countering China and Russia in the region with a "vaccine diplomacy" of their own, will shape relations with neighbouring countries. For the moment, however, Biden has maintained Trump's signature measures and is taking his time to detail what his Latin America policy should be.

NORTHERN TRIANGLE: Aid and growing tension with Bukele

During his election campaign, Joe Biden promised that if he became president he would carry out an aid plan for Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that would amount to 4 billion dollars over four years and that would aim to promote the region's development in order to prevent the massive flow of migrants to the United States. Previously, as vice-president, Biden was directly involved in the Alliance for Prosperity that Obama launched in 2014 in the wake of a previous migration crisis, which sought to provide more than 750 million dollars a year to the Northern Triangle; the programme, which Trump reduced budget , did not prevent the new migration boom seen in recent years.

Undoubtedly, the region, one of the poorest in the world, needs incentives for its development development, but it also continues to face serious problems such as its propensity for natural disasters, dependence on foreign companies to exploit its resources, and the poor governance of its politicians. Thus, Washington has included among its priorities the denunciation of corruption in the Northern Triangle countries, publishing lists of corrupt politicians, already begun with Trump and now expanded with Biden. Precisely these denunciations and the anti-democratic drift of El Salvador's president, Nayib Bukele, are turning a relationship that Bukele had cultivated during the Trump era into a hostile one.

MEXICO: Migration and environment

Mexico, as a country with which it shares an extensive border, has always been a point core topic in US foreign policy and one of its priorities. With the arrival of the Biden Administration, more friction with López Obrador is expected than during Trump's presidency. Increased migratory pressure on the US-Mexico border is complicating Biden's presidency and risks damaging the electoral prospects of Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Biden has directly tasked with managing the migration crisis, which this year is breaking a new record. In addition, Mexico's limitations on the presence of the DEA, the US counter-narcotics agency, have strained relations. Biden has not yet travelled to Mexico, despite the fact that visit is one of the first visits made by US presidents.

Biden's environmentalist policy clashes directly with the interests of the Mexican president, who is focused on building a new large refinery instead of promote renewable energies. Precisely one of the points of tension will be the electricity reform that López Obrador plans to carry out, which will further limit the participation of private companies in the electricity sector and promote the use of non-renewable energies, which are in the hands of the state. The reform was recently suspended by a federal judge, but the government is expected to appeal the blockage. The obstacles to liberalisation fit poorly with the renewed agreement Free Trade Agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada (T-MEC).

COLOMBIA: Protests, peace accords and Venezuelan refugees

With Colombia, the Biden administration is in a period of trial and error. Following President Iván Duque's rapprochement with Trump, despite the latter's initial rebuffs, the Colombian government was praised by Biden for having decided to grant temporary protection status to the almost two million Venezuelan refugees living in the country. Biden congratulated Duque in February by letter, but so far there has been no interview between the two, not even by telephone.

The violent protests in Colombia, which have been met by a police management that has been widely criticised by civil service examination, have not undermined the Biden administration's expressed support for Duque for the moment, but the status could become unstable with the prospect of the presidential elections in May 2022. Washington is uneasy about some missteps in the implementation of the 2016 peace accords, such as the assassination of former guerrillas who have laid down their arms and of social leaders. In any case, Colombia is a convenient ally in the fight against drug trafficking, a task in which the two countries have long collaborated closely since the US's push for Plan Colombia.

Finally, Bogotá can also be useful to the US government in managing the Venezuelan crisis, and not only when it comes to retaining immigrants in the Andean country. The new channels of negotiation that Biden wants to open, while maintaining pressure on Maduro, require a regional consensus of support.

CUBA: The unknown of a post-Castro openness, at least economically

The Obama administration, in which Biden was vice president, carried out a historic rapprochement with Cuba by re-establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. Although Trump maintained this diplomatic recognition, he eliminated some provisions that extended the contact with the island and imposed new sanctions. After the harsh policies of his predecessor, Biden will not for the time being stage a return to Obama's policies. The Cuban government did not reciprocate with signs of openness and favouring an immobile regime may have electoral consequences in the US. The possibility of Trump running in 2024 could project a new struggle for the Latino vote in Florida, particularly the Cuban vote, in a state that Biden lost in 2020. 

Even so, the Biden Administration will try to loosen some of the sanctions, as has been seen with the authorisation to send remittances to the island. For its part, Cuba will probably play quid pro quo diplomacy and wait for its neighbours to take the first steps towards open policies, basically on economic issues. 

VENEZUELA: Options for a credible dialogue

In Venezuela, the recovery of democracy and free elections remain the main focus goal and Biden has maintained the sanctions against the regime of Nicolás Maduro established by Trump. The new administration has moderated its language and taken off the table the possibility of military intervention, which was more rhetoric; however, it still considers Maduro a dictator and recognises Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president. 

The priority is a negotiated solution, based on upcoming electoral processes, but talks have only been tentatively opened and so far no clear interlocutors or forums have been established. The US will try to cooperate with multilateral organisations such as the OAS, the group de Lima or the European Union to try to resolve the country's political and economic crisis. Cuba also enters into the equation in some way, as a change in Venezuela would considerably harm the island if the Castro successors decide to continue with the communist model . 

Moreover, as with the Cuban issue, the attitude towards Chavismo has electoral consequences in the US, especially in Florida, as seen in the 2020 presidential election, so it is difficult for Biden to ease pressure on Maduro before the mid-term elections in November 2022. Biden has granted Venezuelans in the US temporary protected status.

BRAZIL: The Amazon as a touchstone

Due to the tone of Jair Bolsonaro's presidency, Brazil is another of the countries in the region with which the new administration has worsened its relations compared to the Trump period. Biden's emphasis on the environment and combating climate change pits him against a Bolsonaro who is clearly less sensitive to these issues, and who does not seem to react sufficiently to the increasingly deforested Amazon. However, even if Biden finds the relationship uncomfortable, the US will continue to work with Latin America's leading Economics , whose role remains important in regional development issues.

The year and a half remaining until Brazil's October 2022 presidential election presents a stalemate as the two countries wait for a possible political shift to bring the two countries more in unison, although a return to power of the Workers' Party would not necessarily mean a special consonance, as there was none with either Lula da Silva or Dilma Rousseff even with the Democrats in the White House.

Human rights and vaccines

In addition to the aforementioned countries, some others are also on the US agenda, especially in relation to human rights, such as the case of the democratic regression in Nicaragua or the attention that Bolivia could give to former president Jeanine Áñez.

On the other hand, it is expected that in the coming weeks, with most of the US population already inoculated, the US will proceed to submit million doses of vaccines to Latin American countries. In addition to the real financial aid that these deliveries will represent, they will be a way of counteracting the influence that China and Russia have secured in the region by sending their respective vaccines. If the US-China tug-of-war will mark Biden's presidency, as it will undoubtedly mark this entire decade, one area of contention will be the US "backyard".

COMMENTARY / Marina G. Reina

After weeks of rockets being fired from Gaza and the West Bank to Israel and Israeli air strikes, Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire in a no less heated environment. The conflict of the last days between Israel and Palestine has spread like powder in a spiral of violence whose origin and direct reasons are difficult to draw. As a result, hundreds have been killed or injured on both sides.

What at first sight seemed like a Palestinian protest against the eviction of Palestinian families in the Jerusalem's neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, is connected to the pro-Hamas demonstrations held days before at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. And even before that, at the beginning of Ramadan, Lehava, a Jewish far-right extremist organisation, carried out inflammatory anti-Arab protests at the same Damascus Gate. Additionally, the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections that Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas indefinitely postponed must be added to this cocktail of factors. To add fuel to the flames, social average have played a significant role in catapulting the conflict to the international arena-especially due to the attack in Al-Aqsa mosque that shocked Muslims worldwide-, and Hamas' campaign encouraging Palestinian youth to throw into the streets at point of rocks and makeshift bombs. 

Sheikh Jarrah was just the last straw

At this point in the story, it has become clear that the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah have been just another drop of water in a glass that has been overflowing for decades. The Palestinian side attributes this to an Israeli state strategy to expand Jewish control over East Jerusalem and includes claims of ethnic cleansing. However, the issue is actually a private matter between Jews who have property documents over those lands dating the 1800s, substantiated in a 1970 law that enables Jews to reclaim Jewish-owned property in East Jerusalem from before 1948, and a group of Palestinians, not favoured by that same law.

The sentence ruled in favour of the right-wing Jewish Israeli association that was claiming the property. This is not new, as such nationalist Jews have been working for years to expand Jewish presence in East Jerusalem's Palestinian neighbourhoods. Far from being individuals acting for purely private purposes, they are radical Zionist Jews who see their ambitions protected by the law. This is clearly portrayed by the presence of the leader of the Jewish supremacist Lehava group-also defined as opposed to the Christian presence in Israel-during the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah. This same group marched through Jerusalem's downtown to the cry of "Death to Arabs" and looking for attacking Palestinians. The fact is that Israel does not condemn or repress the movements of the extreme Jewish right as it does the Islamic extremist movements. Sheikh Jarrah is one, among other examples, of how, rather, he gives them legal space. 

Clashes in the streets of Israel between Jews and Palestinians

Real pitched battles were fought in the streets of different cities of Israel between Jewish and Palestinians youth. This is the case in places such as Jerusalem, Acre, Lod and Ashkelon -where the sky was filled with the missiles coming from Gaza, that were blocked by the Israeli anti-missile "Iron Dome" system. Palestinian neighbors were harassed and even killed, synagogues were attacked, and endless fights between Palestinians and Israeli Jews happened in every moment on the streets, blinded by ethnic and religious hatred. This is shifting dramatically the narrative of the conflict, as it is taking place in two planes: one militarised, starring Hamas and the Israeli military; and the other one held in the streets by the youth of both factions. Nonetheless, it cannot be omitted the fact that all Israeli Jews receive military training and are conscripted from the age of 18, a reality that sets the distance in such street fights between Palestinians and Israelis.

Tiktok, Instagram and Telegram groups have served as political loudspeakers of the conflict, bombarding images and videos and minute-by-minute updates of the situation. On many occasions accused of being fake news, the truth is that they have achieved an unprecedented mobilization, both within Israel and Palestine, and throughout the world. So much so that pro-Palestinian demonstrations have already been held and will continue in the coming days in different European and US cities. Here, then, there is another factor, which, while informative and necessary, also stokes the flames of fire by promoting even more hatred. Something that has also been denounced in social networks is the removal by the service of review of the videos in favour of the Palestinian cause which, far from serving anything, increases the majority argument that they want to silence the voice of the Palestinians and hide what is happening.

Hamas propaganda, with videos circulating on social average about the launch of the missiles and the bloodthirsty speeches of its leader, added to the Friday's sermons in mosques encouraging young Muslims to fight, and to sacrifice their lives as martyrs protecting the land stolen from them, do nothing but promote hatred and radicalization. In fact, 

It may be rash to say that this is a lost war for the Palestinians, but the facts suggest that it is. The only militarized Palestinian faction is Hamas, the only possible opposition to Israel, and Israel has already hinted to Qatari and Egyptian mediators that it will not stop military deployment and attacks until the military wing of Hamas surrenders its weapons. The US President denied the idea of Israel being overreacting. 

Hamas' political upside in violence and Israel's catastrophic counter-offensive 

Experts declare that it seems like Hamas was seeking to overload or saturate Israel's interception system, which can only stand a certain number of attacks at once. Indeed, the group has significantly increased the rate of fire, meaning that it has not only replenished its arsenal in spite of the blockade imposed by Israel, but that it has also improved its capabilities. Iran has played a major role in this, supplying technology in order to boost Palestinian self-production of weapons, extend the range of rockets and improve their accuracy. A reality that has been recognised by both Hamas and Iran, as Hamas attributes to the Persian country its success. 

This translates into the bloodshed of unarmed civilians to be continued. If we start from the basis that Israeli action is defensive, it must also be said that air strikes do not discriminate against targets. Although the IDF has declared that the targets are instructions of Hamas, it has been documented how buildings of civilians have been destroyed in Gaza, as already counted by 243 the numbers of dead and those of injured are more than 1,700 then the ceasefire entered into effect. On the Israeli side, the wounded reported were 200 and the dead were counted as 12. In an attempt to wipe out senior Hamas officials, the Israeli army was taking over residential buildings, shops and the lives of Palestinian civilians. In the last movement, Israel was focusing on destroying Hamas' tunnels and entering Gaza with a large military deployment of tanks and military to do so.

Blood has been shed from whatever ethnical and religious background, because Hamas has seen a political upside in violence, and because Israel has failed to punish extremist Jewish movements as it does with Islamist terrorism and uses disproportionate defensive action against any Palestinian uprising. A sea of factors that converge in hatred and violence because both sides obstinately and collectively refuse to recognize and legitimate the existence of the other.

Categories Global Affairs: Middle East Security and defence Comments

[Pablo Pérez López, Charles de Gaulle, el estadista rebelde (Ciudadela: Madrid, 2020), 218 pp.]

review / Jairo Císcar

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's death and the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in the Second World War, Professor Pablo Pérez López publishes this new biography of "the most illustrious of the French", as he is sometimes referred to. When one undertakes to write a biography, and even more so when it is about a figure about whom countless books and articles have been written, one runs the risk of becoming diluted in what has gone before and contributing nothing new. However, this volume presents the character from a different perspective: his rebelliousness. Rebelliousness understood as a fight for what one believes to be just, as an active non-conformism that pushes one to overcome mediocrity, as love and service to France in its darkest moments. I believe that this is precisely one of the book's greatest achievements: to present, in barely 200 pages and in a friendly and direct style, a new portrait of the French general, who - beyond the excusable chiaroscuros of any person - is a model to be followed and an example of courage that is fully up to date.

The book presents De Gaulle's life chronologically, from his childhood to his death. An analysis of his early life is fundamental to understanding the great man he would later become. We are presented with a restless and dreamy young man, a devout Christian from a very early age. A young man who, at the age of just 14, discovered a vocation, that of military life, which would mark his whole life and the lives of millions of his compatriots, and who would apply himself to it to the point of becoming a leader A . Also noteworthy in the book is the extensive use of passages from his memoirs or handwritten texts of the protagonist, which reveal the most unknown facet of the character: his psyche, his love, his devotion, his rebelliousness. For it must be stressed that sample is a self-aware (but not overbearing) De Gaulle who is clear that he has a mission statement.

We soon move on to introduce the then captain, who excelled during the Great War for his keen analysis and foresight, his love of France never clouding his judgement when it came to pointing out his own and others' failings. A young man who, despite the humiliation of being taken prisoner (despite his heroic efforts that earned him the Legion of Honour), never ceased to learn and examine the enemy, making the most of every moment of his 32 months in captivity.

We follow his development after the Great War, already as a promising member of Petáin's entourage. But it was not all success. De Gaulle's life is marked by the greatness of men who know how to overcome difficulties. Perhaps the most special, and where his true character can be seen, is in the life of his daughter Anne, who suffered from Down's syndrome, and with whom de Gaulle developed an extraordinary bond and closeness. It was with her that the thoughtful general dressed as an affable and affectionate father.

This training of his character seems to me essential to understand the rest of the book, and therefore the rest of his life. Without wishing to end up making a complete summary of the volume (which, as mentioned above, covers his entire life, with special and necessary emphasis on his "political life"), I felt it necessary to reflect the singular proposal and goal of this book, which is none other than to show that more unknown side of the French general, that rebelliousness and non-conformism that led him to play a very important role in the creation of the current form of the French Republic and whose imprint, 50 years after his death, is still alive in Europe and in French politics.

Personally, I was very attracted by the style and organisation of the writing. It makes proposal enjoyable and easy to read, while at the same time a very serious and profound work , which invites constant reflection. sample the intimacy and loneliness of a man faced with the incomprehension of his contemporaries, with respect to whom he was always ahead of the curve. A man who, at final, always put the greater good, his beloved France, before his own. An expert tankman who knew how to lead his country at such different times: the Free French government in London, the parade on the Champs Elysées, the revolt in Algiers, the birth of the Fifth French Republic, May '68 and his final resignation, as a man of honour, after losing the referendum on the Senate and the regions which he called, in one of his last acts of rebellion, against all his advisors.

Finally, de Gaulle was a rebel to the death, refusing any state funeral and resting, with his beloved daughter, in a small French village. His tombstone - which simply reads: Charles de Gaulle, 1890-1970 - merely shows his final rebellion. The man died, but the myth was born.

Categories Global Affairs: European Union World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews

Behind the tension between Qatar and its neighbours is the Qatari ambitious foreign policy and its refusal to obey

Recent diplomatic contacts between Qatar and Saudi Arabia have suggested the possibility of a breakthrough in the bitter dispute held by Qatar and its Arab neighbors in the Gulf since 2017. An agreement could be within reach in order to suspend the blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain (and Egypt), and clarify the relations the Qataris have with Iran. The resolution would help Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup free of tensions. This article gives a brief context to understand why things are the way they are.

Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, one of the premises for the 2020 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, one of the premises for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

ARTICLE / Isabelle León

The diplomatic crisis in Qatar is mainly a political conflict that has shown how far a country can go to retain leadership in the regional balance of power, as well as how a country can find alternatives to grow regardless of the blockade of neighbors and former trading partners. In 2017, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain broke diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a blockade on land, sea, and air.

When we refer to the Gulf, we are talking about six Arab states: Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. As neighbors, these countries founded the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1981 to strengthen their relation economically and politically since all have many similarities in terms of geographical features and resources like oil and gas, culture, and religion. In this alliance, Saudi Arabia always saw itself as the leader since it is the largest and most oil-rich Gulf country, and possesses Mecca and Medina, Islam's holy sites. In this sense, dominance became almost unchallenged until 1995, when Qatar started pursuing a more independent foreign policy.

Tensions grew among neighbors as Iran and Qatar gradually started deepening their trading relations. Moreover, Qatar started supporting Islamist political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, considered by the UAE and Saudi Arabia as terrorist organizations. Indeed, Qatar acknowledges the support and assistance provided to these groups but denies helping terrorist cells linked to Al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State or Hamas. Additionally, with the launch of the tv network Al Jazeera, Qatar gave these groups a means to broadcast their voices. Gradually the environment became tense as Saudi Arabia, leader of Sunni Islam, saw the Shia political groups as a threat to its leadership in the region.

Consequently, the Gulf countries, except for Oman and Kuwait, decided to implement a blockade on Qatar. As political conditioning, the countries imposed specific demands that Qatar had to meet to re-establish diplomatic relations. Among them there were the detachment of the diplomatic ties with Iran, the end of support for Islamist political groups, and the cessation of Al Jazeera's operations. Qatar refused to give in and affirmed that the demands were, in some way or another, a violation of the country's sovereignty.

A country that proves resilient

The resounding blockade merited the suspension of economic activities between Qatar and these countries. Most shocking was, however, the expulsion of the Qatari citizens who resided in the other GCC states. A year later, Qatar filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice on grounds of discrimination. The court ordered that the families that had been separated due to the expulsion of their relatives should be reunited; similarly, Qatari students who were studying in these countries should be permitted to continue their studies without any inconvenience. The UAE issued an injunction accusing Qatar of halting the website where citizens could apply for UAE visas as Qatar responded that it was a matter of national security. Between accusations and statements, tensions continued to rise and no real improvement was achieved.

At the beginning of the restrictions, Qatar was economically affected because 40% of the food supply came to the country through Saudi Arabia. The reduction in the oil prices was another factor that participated on the economic disadvantage that situation posed. Indeed, the market value of Qatar decreased by 10% in the first four weeks of the crisis. However, the country began to implement measures and shored up its banks, intensified trade with Turkey and Iran, and increased its domestic production. Furthermore, the costs of the materials necessary to build the new stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 FIFA World Cup increased; however, Qatar started shipping materials through Oman to avoid restrictions of UAE and successfully coped with the status quo.

This notwithstanding, in 2019, the situation caused almost the rupture of the GCC, an alliance that ultimately has helped the Gulf countries strengthen economic ties with European Countries and China. The gradual collapse of this organisation has caused even more division between the blocking countries and Qatar, a country that hosts the largest military US base in the Middle East, as well as one of Turkey, which gives it an upper hand in the region and many potential strategic alliances.

The new normal or the beginning of the end?

Currently, the situation is slowly opening-up. Although not much progress has been made through traditional or legal diplomatic means to resolve this conflict, sports diplomacy has played a role. The countries have not yet begun to commercialize or have allowed the mobility of citizens, however, the event of November 2019 is an indicator that perhaps it is time to relax the measures. In that month, Qatar was the host of the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup tournament in which the Gulf countries participated with their national soccer teams. Due to the blockade, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain had boycotted the championship; however, after having received another invitation from the Arabian Gulf Cup Federation, the countries decided to participate and after three years of tensions, sent their teams to compete. The sporting event was emblematic and demonstrated how sport may overcome differences.

Moreover, recently Saudi Arabia has given declarations that the country is willing to engage in the process to lift-up the restrictions. This attitude toward the conflict means, in a way, improvement despite Riyadh still claims the need to address the security concerns that Qatar generates and calls for a commitment to the solution. As negotiations continue, there is a lot of skepticism between the parties that keep hindering the path toward the resolution.  

Donald Trump's administration recently reiterated its cooperation and involvement in the process to end Qatar's diplomatic crisis. Indeed, US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien stated that the US hopes in the next two months there would be an air bridge that will allow the commercial mobilization of citizens. The current scenario might be optimistic, but still, everything has remained in statements as no real actions have been taken. This participation is within the US strategic interest because the end of this rift can signify a victorious situation to the US aggressive foreign policy toward Iran and its desire to isolate the country. This situation remains a priority in Trump's last days in office. Notwithstanding, as the transition for the administration of Joe Biden begins, it is believed that he would take a more critical approach on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, pressuring them to put an end to the restrictions.

This conflict has turned into a political crisis of retention of power or influence over the region. It is all about Saudi Arabia's dominance being threatened by a tiny yet very powerful state, Qatar. Although more approaches to lift-up the rift will likely begin to take place and restrictions will gradually relax, this dynamic has been perceived by the international community and the Gulf countries themselves as the new normal. However, if the crisis is ultimately resolved, mistrust and rivalry will remain and will generate complications in a region that is already prone to insurgencies and instability. All the countries involved indeed have more to lose than to gain, but three years have been enough to show that there are ways to turn situations like these around.

STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / Marina Díaz, Lucía Montón and Paula Mostajo

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

South Korea is considered to have a middle power status, not only in the North-East Asian region but internationally. In this sense, this paper aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the stance South Korea might take regarding key international, regional, peninsular and domestic issues in ten years time.

In the international sphere, this paper has focused on the US-ROK stating the plausibility of a further enhancement, in view of the new Biden's Administration's need to reduce the breach created by former President Trump.

Regarding the regional sphere, the present report addresses South Korea's relations with China, in economic matters; Japan, alliance-wise, and Russia, in relation with energy. These bilateral engagements are clearly impacted by South Korea's proximity to the United States, the country's historical memory and North Korea's willingness to be part of a trilateral understanding, respectively.

Second to last, the peninsular approach of the script assesses the development of inter-Korean relations in views of the two incompatible ideologies and approaches coming from the North and the South of the peninsula and presents the maintenance of the current status has the most plausible scenario.

To end up, there is an allusion to domestic concerns as they play an important role in South Korea's development capabilities. In this section the paper discusses the country's SARS-CoV-2 disease successful management and assess why export possibilities might not be taken for granted, the big South Korean concerns on the ever-worsening demographic situation and, lastly, the country's satisfactorily progression towards renewable energy sources.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Reports

STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / Corey J. Hubbard and Paula Mora Brito

 

 

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Intense military pressures on South Korea have been present for half a century, with the country being at the centre of numerous regional conflicts. The government's technique for addressing external security threats differs depending on its nature, varying from assuming the position of great foreign powers to implementing its independent policy. The Republic of Korea's reliance on foreign assistance for defence and protection shows no signs of ending, especially concerning North Korea. The incitement of Kim Jong Un's government risks hostility in the region.

The country is under growing domestic pressures to find solutions for a rapidly ageing population and record low birthrates, one of the world's weakest. Failure to do so compromises South Korea's status as a growing power in East Asia, one of the four Asian Tigers, and risks leading the country to economic stagnation. Suppose the South Korean government does not find a way to make immigration more palatable to the Korean people. In that case, it is unlikely that South Korea will avoid a significant population decline.

Well-established antagonism with Japan could worsen as Japanese nationalist policies conflict with the South Korean government's goals. However, the recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership opens up several possible developments in Korean-Japanese relations, extending from an unlikely reset in their bilateral ties to an equally unlikely economic confrontation. The Liancourt Rocks dispute also stands to be influenced by recent events, which may incline South Korea to turn to foreign mediation on the issue.

South Korean relations with the United States are evolving, with the Biden Administration recently inking a new cost-sharing deal with the South Korean Government to cover the expenses of American troops stationed on the Peninsula. Nevertheless, China's growing influence threatens to overturn the established order in the region, and a rapprochement of South Korea to China may take place over the coming decades.

The future security of South Korea is directly tied to developments on the Korean Peninsula. Suppose relations with the North Korean Regime significantly improve, which most expect to be unlikely in the near future. In that case, reunification may result, but North Korea's nuclear weapons development could destabilise the region too. Scenarios relating to these events vary from an unlikely reunification to an equally unlikely nuclear war.

South Korea's attempts at navigating the growingly tense feud between the United States and China may force the country to choose a side in the conflict, which will have severe ramifications for its security architecture.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Reports

STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / María G. Fajardo, Marcelina Kropiwnicka and Matilde Romito

 

 

 

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Korean Peninsula is central to the political, economic and military policies of several actors in the East Asia region. Due to its geographical location, the peninsula has seen the involvement of major powers throughout history, like the United States, China, Russia and Japan. Currently, the peninsula is a contested territory between the U.S. and China. The latter is the only country capable of challenging American interests and uses its economic power to increase its sphere of influence in the region.

The DPRK has built and maintained capabilities to target areas as far as U.S. soil. The North has always represented one of the biggest challenges for South Korea and its security guarantor, the U.S. President Biden will nevertheless sway for establishing a network line for Kim to potentially cross and instead, new sanctions could be expected despite their lack of effectiveness.

For the U.S. to maintain its dominant role in the East Asia region, deter North Korea, and keep China in check, it must reaffirm its military and economic alliances which entered into a period of uncertainty during the Trump administration. Currently, China is South Korea's principal trading partner and is openly evading international sanctions imposed on North Korea being its principal trading partner as well.

The prosperous South Korea will remain neutral in many aspects related to China, yet if put in a situation where it has to choose between the U.S. and China, it will incline towards the former, which remains its security guarantor. When it comes to Russia, its role in the Korean conflict is now secondary but over the years, Russia has used the U.S.-China battle to increase relations with the latter. In the case of Japan, a close U.S. ally, a shift in relations with the ROK is unlikely to happen any time soon since their political issues have evolved into legal ones. This will remain detrimental to the U.S' New East China Sea policy which requires cooperation between U.S. allies.

Diplomacy, openness and potential reunification in the peninsula depend on external actors. Neither reunification nor openness are likely to take place in the short term due to Kim's personality and the preference of external actors to maintain the status quo. A reunification led under peaceful terms would be most desirable and would ultimately lead to an even larger economic powerhouse in the region. For the U.S, this pathway would be most beneficial if a reunified Korea would align with the U.S. This would be detrimental, however, to China's geopolitical interests in the region. Russia could come out as being the greatest benefactor from a peaceful reunification. Lastly, Japan could continue to feel threatened by a reunified Korea, which is united by hatred over a colonial past under Japanese savage rule.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Reports

Electricity connection between Ceuta and the mainland: a matter of energy and environmental security

The route of a submarine cable for electricity transmission to Spain's place has been stalled since 2016.

The project electricity interconnection between Ceuta and the Spanish mainland, of the network Eléctrica Española, is already five years behind schedule. Its execution should be a priority in order to integrate the autonomous city into future Europe-Africa connection routes.

article / Ignacio Urbasos Arbeloa

19.05.2021. In 1997 the submarine electrical interconnection between Tarifa and Punta Fardioua in Morocco was completed. This new connection joined the gas pipeline inaugurated in 1996 that crossed Morocco from Algeria to Spain and Portugal, forging a Spanish-Moroccan energy alliance that would allow the economic development and security of energy supply for both partners. This infrastructure, with a capacity of 700 MW, was capable of supplying Morocco with nearly 50% of its annual electricity needs. It was a strategic link for the Maghreb country, which experienced a 5.8% annual growth in electricity demand during the 1990s. In 2006, this interconnection doubled its capacity to 1.4 GW, the first international interconnection between two continents in the world to reach this size. Despite recent frictions between Spain and Morocco over illegal immigration, fishing agreements and above all the Perejil incident, the recently arrived Socialist government led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was committed to strengthening ties between the two sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, continuing with the energy interconnection. Although at the beginning the submarine cable was mainly used for the export of electricity from Spain, in recent years bilateral exchanges have been balancing out, result of the Moroccan strategy of energy autonomy.

From Ceuta, the route of the submarine cable has always been considered a lost historical opportunity. The autonomous city produces electricity from old diesel generators, which apart from being inefficient and expensive, have high levels of particulate emissions in the air and greenhouse gases. The city of Ceuta is the only region in Spain without renewable electricity production, status with little room for improvement considering the scarcity of space for it development. From network Eléctrica Española there is already a plan to develop a submarine cable between La Línea (Cádiz) and Ceuta, which has encountered civil service examination from environmental groups in Cádiz and the mayor of the area himself, which has forced a delay in its installation from 2016 to the present day. In February 2021, at the request of network Eléctrica Española, the CNMC granted the character of project singular to this interconnection, which should facilitate the start of the installation, which already proposes alternative routes in order to reach the necessary social consensus. The submarine cable will have a rapid payback period, as it will eliminate the costs associated with Ceuta's isolated electricity system, and will enable the City to reduce its carbon emissions, in line with Spain's Climate Strategy, which aims to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The cable will join other similar interconnection infrastructures in Spain, such as those between the Balearic electricity system and the Spanish mainland or the submarine cable linking the Bay of Biscay with the French region of Aquitaine.

The cable will also diversify future interconnections between Spain and Morocco, which should grow as Morocco increases the amount of renewable energies in its electricity mix. Morocco, which has an ambitious decarbonisation strategy, is committed to the development of renewable energies as a driver of future national economic growth and as a lever to guarantee its regional leadership. Morocco already has interconnections with Algeria of 1.2 GW, and is planning a connection line with Portugal and Mauritania.

In any case, it is clear that Spain is a necessarily vital partner for Morocco's green project , which aims to export both electricity and renewable hydrogen to the EU in the future. Spain 's position as a necessary energy bridge should serve as a strong argument in bilateral negotiations. In this sense, Ceuta should become a strategic point for future extensions to the electricity interconnection on both sides of the strait. Morocco's strategy of implicit pressure on Ceuta and Melilla by closing cross-border trade or allowing illegal immigrants to cross is a move that clearly meets the definition of a grey zone offensive. The Alawite dynasty has for decades, since independence in 1956, made public and palpable its traditional longing for and strategic interest in Spain's only two non-island territories in North Africa. Connecting the mainland electricity system with Ceuta should be considered as a strategic project for the benefit of national energy security, the reduction of greenhouse gases and the improvement of air quality. In addition, proposing Ceuta as a necessary crossing point in future electricity interconnections between Africa and Europe would offer Spain the capacity for dissuasion and negotiation against a Morocco that does not hesitate to use direct pressure on the cities of Ceuta and Melilla to achieve its objectives in bilateral Spain-Morocco relations.

[Juan Tovar Ruiz, La doctrina en la política exterior de Estados Unidos: De Truman a Trump ( Madrid: Catarata, 2017) 224 pages].

review / Xabier Ramos Garzón

Every change in the White House leads to an analysis of the outgoing president's policies and speculation about the incoming president's policies. Given the weight of the United States in the world, each administration's vision of international affairs is decisive for the world order. Juan Tovar Ruiz, professor of International Office at the University of Burgos, deals in this book with the essence of each president's foreign policy - mainly from Truman to Trump (Biden's, logically, has yet to be defined) - which in many cases follows a defined roadmap that has come to be called 'doctrine'.

The book's strengths include the fact that it combines several points of view: on the one hand, it covers, from a realist point of view, the structural and internal effects of each policy, and on the other hand, it analyses the ideas and interactions between actors from a constructivist point of view. The author explores decision-making processes and their consequences, considers the ultimate effectiveness of American doctrines in the general context of International Office, and examines the influences, ruptures and continuities between different doctrines over time. Despite the relatively short history of the United States, the country has had an extensive and complex foreign policy, which Tovar, focusing on the last eight decades, synthesises with particular merit, adopting a mainly general viewpoint that highlights the substantive.

The book is divided into seven chapters, organised by historical stages and, within each, by presidents. The first chapter, by way of introduction, covers the period following US independence until the end of World War II. This period is sample as a background core topic in future American ideology, with two particularly decisive positions: the Monroe Doctrine and Wilsonian Idealism. The second chapter deals with the First Cold War, with the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson doctrines. The chapter contextualises the various postulates and identifies the issues that went to core topic in the creation of doctrines that only affected the foreign policy of the time, but became embedded in the core of American political thought. The third chapter deals with the Distension, the period between 1969 and 1979 in which the Nixon and Carter doctrines came into being. The fourth chapter takes us to the Second Cold War and the end of the US-USSR confrontation, a time when we find the doctrines of Reagan and Bush senior. From this point, the following chapters (fifth, sixth and seventh) deal with the post-Cold War period, with the doctrines of Clinton, Bush junior and the more recent - and therefore still subject to study - doctrines of Obama and Trump.

In the conclusions, the author summarises each of the chapters on the basis of academic or political characterisations and makes some qualifications, such as warning that in his opinion Obama's foreign policy is more of a "non-doctrine", as it combines elements of different ideologies and is partly contradictory. Obama dealt with various conflicts in different ways: he dealt realistically with "wars of necessity" (Afghanistan) and agreement with the liberal internationalist approach to conflicts such as Libya. While Obama's flexibility might be considered a weakness by some, as he did not follow a firm and marked policy, it can also be seen as the necessary adaptation to a continuously changing environment. On many occasions a US president, such as Bush Jr., has pursued a rigid foreign policy, ideologically speaking, that ultimately achieved little practical success written request .

Another example of a variant of the conventional doctrine that sample the author gives is the "anti-doctrine" carried out by Trump. The man who was to be president until 2021 implemented a policy characterised by numerous contradictions and variations on the role that the US had been playing in the world, thereby casting doubt and uncertainty on the expected behaviour of the American superpower. This was due to Trump's political inexperience, both domestically and domestically, which caused concern not only among international actors but also at the core of Washington itself.

From the analysis of the different doctrines presented in the book, we can see how each of them is adapted to a specific social, historical and political context, and at the same time they all respond to a shared political tradition of a country that, as a superpower, manifests certain constants when it comes to maintaining peace and guaranteeing security. But these constants should not be confused with universal aspects, as each country has its own particularities and interests: simply adapting US positions to the foreign policy plans of other countries can lead to chaotic failures if these differences are not recognised.

For example, countries like Spain, which depend on EU membership, would not be able to enter into random wars unilaterally as the US has done. However, Spain could adopt some elements, such as in subject of decision-making, as this subject of doctrines makes it much easier to objectify and standardise the processes of analysis and resolutions.

Categories Global Affairs: North America World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews

WORKING PAPER / Jokin de Carlos Sola

ABSTRACT

During and after the fall of the Soviet Block the three countries of Germany, Denmark and Sweden saw an opportunity to increase their influence on the region that centuries before they had possessed. They did this through diplomatic support of the opposition and communication strategies and once the new countries were either independent or liberal democracies, they used their economic and political power to attract them. This was done by buying and investing in the new privatised assets of these countries, soft power and in some cases diplomatic pressure. By this way Germany, Sweden and Denmark did not only got new investment hubs and markets for their products but also support in the Governance of the European Union.

 

 

 

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